“Have a wonderful day,” chirps the customer service person at Comcast.
“A wonderful day? You double-charged me. You haven’t posted my last check and you keep double billing me!”
“Lady. Don’t yell. You owe money!”
“You cashed the check! I have the confirmation number! I demand to talk to a supervisor.”
“I am a supervisor.”
“One who speaks English,” I add.
“You sound like Trump. I report you. I don’t take this.” Bam goes the phone.
It’s the beginning of a new year. I have a rotten cold and I’m walking around sneezing, coughing, shivering. I tripped and fell and hurt my knee and Comcast is making me crazy. Not to mention Hollywood. Five years ago HBO optioned my book “The Viagra Diaries.” First, this famous scriptwriter makes my 70-year old Anny Applebaum 52, with a turned-up nose, blonde layered hair and big boobs. It was horrible and the HBO project went south. The second option at CBS was worse: Another scriptwriter makes poor Anny a chef.
“Chefs have been done,” I protest. “She’s a writer. She’s 70.”
“70 isn’t box office,” argues the studio executive who can’t be older than 22.
Why are these bozos so scared of age?
“I’ve had it!” I complain on the phone to my daughter Bonny.
“Mom, take a Xanax.” She sighs heavily.
“I don’t take drugs.”
“I’m not. I’m just hard of hearing,” I say.
“Get a hearing aid, Mom.”
“It’s bad enough pushing 80 with glaucoma and the IBS thing. Do I need a hearing aid too? How do you expect me to find Mr. Wonderful?”
Click. She hangs up.
So I go for a walk. I need to walk every day. It clears my head and keeps me moving. I’m thinking of getting a dog. I want to give a rescue puppy all my love.
I look at the silvery clouds puffing up and wham, it’s pouring. I don’t have an umbrella and my Skecher shoes are getting soaked and making squishy sounds. I run now, loving the rain, loving life. Who cares about Hollywood?
I hurry into my apartment, looking forward to the birthday party I’ve been invited to that night.
It’s still raining when I arrive at Pane e Vino on Union Street. I’m wearing my new, black, ankle-length coat, high heel boots and turtleneck sweater. I greet my friends and immediately notice a drop-dead gorgeous, much-younger man.
“Hello, Bella,” he says in a smooth Italian accent. “I’m Georgio Cohen.”
“You sure are,” I say. He kisses me twice on each cheek. Not a day over 50, I think.
Everyone is talking at once. Lovely Italian appetizers are brought to our table along with wine. I ask for a glass of ice and when no one is looking, I open a flask and pour Stoli vodka shots into the glass. Wowie, I’m having a great time.
Georgio tells me that his father is Jewish and his mother is Venetian and that he was raised in Venice. He’s a clockmaker. Really into time. Very elegant, cultured. He has dark-blonde hair, dark skin, a wonderful Semitic nose and this accent that can lull tigers to sleep. I’m swooning. Wowie, I feel like I’m inside one of those sexy Italian movies.
Everyone is saying what a great year it’s going to be, stuff like that. Then my friend Binky brings up ageism in America.
“Oh I don’t believe in age,” I say quickly. “Age is only a number.”
Everyone is slurping pasta and debating age and meanwhile I’m glad I’m wearing a turtleneck and a cashmere scarf wrapped around my throat so Georgio doesn’t see the hanging gobble thing under my chin. I’m having fantasies galore, feeling like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard.”
“I had an affair with a 75-year-old woman,” Georgio says. “She had a beautiful body.”
Did I hear the flirt? What if she didn’t have a beautiful body? Is he only into the body? Forget him! But the illusion is great. Maybe love is an illusion? Like a lovely rose in bloom, it can’t last? Maybe at my age illusion is better than reality?Outside, it’s still raining. Everyone hugs and says good night. Georgio gives me a hug. I hurry into a taxi.
On the way home, I think what a wonderful day I’ve had.
“Have a wonderful day,” I call as I exit the taxi and hurry into my apartment.
You should see the stars — billions dazzle the sky.